Keyboard.IO has graduated from ‘hobby project’ to 'start-up’. While on vacation in South America, we found out that we’ve been accepted to Highway1’s Spring 2014 class. Once we get home, we’ll have about 11 days to pack the cats and keyboards and move to San Francisco. It’s going to be amazing.
(With apologies to Marko Kaye and the good folks at McSweeney’s)
I realize it’s awkward, discussing these sordid matters with our friends, fans and followers, but we’ve incorporated a start-up. You all read the blog posts. Seriously, we had already in-all-but-name started a start-up in our attic. You saw the snapshots of soldering irons and keycaps there.
We want you to know that we still love you, even though we’ve started experimenting with volume production and joined an incubator. Don’t be worried. The world of hardware start-ups is as difficult as it is irresistable. You’ve probably heard these funny phrases being tossed around on the interwebs: design for manufacturing, PCB design, Kickstarter and Open Hardware. You and your friends may have talked about saving your fingers’ lives with comfy keyboards. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but Highway1 is going to help us get you better keyboards. Don’t worry! We’re going to be hard at work over the next five months. There won’t be any yacht parties with Ashton Kutcher! Any IPO would be a long time off! There won’t be a wedding, medieval-themed or otherwise! And we’re ineligible to win a Webby!
It’s time for our talk to turn to action. We’ve been shipping beta keyboards to a few fans, but last time we asked, we had scores of impassioned pleas saying stuff like “You NEED to pick me as your next beta tester!”
Well, this exciting “concept” we had for a new keyboard — It’s gotten a bit more involved, hasn’t it? Without help, it feels like it could escalate out of control. Sometimes, the factories we’re talking to are saying things we don’t quite understand.
Much as y’all are screaming “Go for it!” it is definitely not ok to enter into an agreement with a contract manufacturer for the first time without a little support and help. Even if they are sending us hopeful emails about their MOQs, maximum production capacities, partnership agreements and Alibaba feedback scores.
Good people are especially prone to bad ideas. Learning to solder to build one’s first keyboard, right and wrong quickly becomes murky. One gets caught up in the hoopla. That seemingly innocent soldering session leads to late-night 3D printing marathons. Those become, oh god, marathon PCB designs, and volume production inquiries. Before we know it — bang — we’re inside what is a start-up in all-but the legal formalities. Eventually, we realize there is no turning back. We’re well stocked with jokes based around cat and keyboard-memes. Some bearded hacktivist named Rabble is letting us crash on his couch. Today, we’re filing incorporation paperwork for Keyboard.IO. Three weeks from today, we start work as part of Highway1’s Spring 2014 class at their workspace in San Francisco. Please don’t disown us.
PS: If the form of this blog post seems nonsensical, you probably haven’t read Marko Kaye’s http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/son-its-time-we-talk-about-where-start-ups-come-from. You should. If the prose in this blog post seems strained and contrived, you’re right.
PPS: Yes, we wrote this whole piece just because @rabble is letting us crash on his couch.